The Boy Scouts of America is a natural cause for Bill McGowen. Growing up in Washington in the 1950s, he was active in scouting, earning the rank of Eagle Scout. Scouting teaches leadership, teamwork, and anticipation, and like all Eagles, he had to demonstrate that he had acquired those skills.
But it wasn’t until years later, when he was landing attack planes on a Naval aircraft carrier in Vietnam, when he truly appreciated the lessons he had learned as a scout. “When you are flying in formation at 400 mph, you depend on teamwork. You trust your wingmen and they trust you.” It isn’t a stretch to say that his early foundation with the Scouts helped keep him alive while engaged in one of the military’s most dangerous assignments.
Decades after his scouting career ended, Bill’s interest and involvement with the Boy Scouts of America continues. In addition to his job as Executive Director of the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Bill’s wife, Suzette McGowen, wants to help animals and support the work of the Washington County Humane Society, but she just cannot do it in person. “I already have three dogs and one cat. If I went to the shelter, I’d fall in love with every dog and I’d have to bring them all home.” She appreciates the fact that at the Humane Society, dogs are not routinely euthanized. “It gives me peace of mind that we are helping in some small way to keep it a no-kill shelter.”
For the McGowens, creating the Bill & Suzette McGowen Family Fund to support the Boy Scouts and the Washington County Humane Society was an outgrowth of a gift they made to their church’s building fund. The McGowens donated a piece of real estate they owned, with some of the proceeds benefiting the church and the rest used to create their fund. Turning to the WCCF was a easy decision; they had known about the work of the Foundation for years.
Suzette is originally from Georgia; the couple met while Bill was working in Washington, D.C. With their skills and résumés, they could have lived anywhere. The Trinity grad and his bride chose to come back to his hometown and become the seventh generation of McGowens to live on the family land.